“Klout for Pinterest” is a catchy company description, but it might not be a good idea to take it too literally.
Startup PinClout launched about a week ago, and its name seemed to make the company’s mission clear — to measure influence on fast-growing Pinterest. And there’s been positive interest, with some tech press coverage and what co-founder Chris Fay said is an average of 2,000 to 3,000 unique visitors every day. (Amazingly, it’s not the only “Klout for Pinterest.”) However, the company just received a letter from Klout’s attorney asking it to “immediately cease and desist from all use of or plans to use the PINCLOUT mark and the www.pinclout.com domain name.”
The letter argues that PinClout’s name is “confusingly similar” to Klout for several reasons: The similarity between the words, the similarity between the services, the fact that they’re directed at similar consumers, and the similar marketing channels.
PinClout co-founder Chris Fay said he was “really surprised” to get the letter. He argued that despite the superficial similarities, PinClout has different aims from Klout — yes, it provides a score between 1 and 100 to rate a user’s influence, but he said the real aim is to provide analytics tools to businesses so they can increase that influence: “It’s not really about the score itself.”
Nonetheless, Fay said that on the advice of PinClout’s lawyer, the company will be changing its name rather than getting embroiled in an long and costly legal fight. The new name is still being decided. (I pointed out that if his goal was to create something that isn’t just Klout for Pinterest, changing the name might not be a bad idea, and Fay agreed: “We can utilize this to show that we are different from them.”)
I called a Klout spokesperson, who told me the company welcomes new entries into a market they invented but also feels it’s important to avoid confusion and “protect the brand” — for themselves and for partners.
I’ve embedded the letter below.